For Reel

Mexican Spitfire’s Elephant (1942)
June 21, 2016, 12:56 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Leslie Goodwins
2 Stars
Mexican Spitfire's ElephantThe penultimate Mexican Spitfire film was the third to be released in just six months—a sign that the hijinx of Carmelita (Lupe Velez) and Uncle Matt’s Lord Epping (Leon Errol) impersonation were a hit with audiences. It also brings an inevitable feeling of exhaustion to the proceedings, with gags being repeated and the misuderstandings being less gleefully contrived and instead feeling more by-the-numbers. For instance, the frequent mishap that occurs when a bartender gets flustered by the inconsistencies of Lord Epping’s orders is protracted more than usual—an especially glaring problem because it’s an old joke to begin with! To the picture’s credit, it has a different feel from the other installments in the series, thanks in large part to the appearances of Lyle Talbot and Marion Martin (returning to the series for the third time, but now as a new character), who raise the stakes by seeming to have just walked off of the set of a film noir. Despite the brief appearance of a pachyderm, the title refers to a small statue that Talbot fools Lord Epping into smuggling for him. Coming a year after The Maltese Falcon, the plot is a deliberate parody of that classic, but unfortunately the writers are in over their heads in satirizing that genre. Although not a great picture by any estimation, the Warner Brothers programmer Find the Blackmailer would do a more effective job of capturing the tone of The Maltese Falcon in a comedic context just a year later.

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